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Linking or copying information/content/charts/worksheets from Excel to PowerPoint


You have information in Excel that you'd like to include in a PowerPoint presentation. You'd like to set this up so that when the information is changed in the Excel file, it also changes in the PowerPoint presentation. It'd also be nice if you could doubleclick the information in PowerPoint to edit it in Excel.

Do you really need to link (rather than embed) the information? Check the bottom of this page for some suggestions before you decide.

And if you drive a Mac, check this page from Mac MVP Jim Gordon


Easy! All you need to do is create a link from PowerPoint to the info in your Excel file.

  1. If you're working with content on a worksheet rather than on a chartsheet and don't want grid lines in your PowerPoint presentation, choose Tools, Options, View and remove the checkmark next to Gridlines; then click OK.
  2. Save the Excel file that contains your information if you haven't already done so.
  3. In Excel, select the information you want to use, then press Ctrl+C or choose Edit, Copy.
  4. Switch to PowerPoint and move to the slide where you want to use the information from Excel. You should be in Normal or Slide view.
  5. From the Edit menu, choose Paste Special. (In PowerPoint 2007 and up, go to the Home tab and click the down-arrow beneath Paste; click Paste Special.)
  6. In the Paste Special dialog box that appears, click the "Paste Link" option button, then click OK. (In PowerPoint 2007, you should choose Worksheet or Chartsheet Object as the paste type; if this isn't available, go back to Excel and try copying again; sometimes it takes a few tries; sometimes Microsoft fixes these bugs.)

This creates a link to the information in your Excel file. Each time you open the presentation, PowerPoint offers to update the links. If the linked information in the Excel file has changed, this upates it in your PowerPoint presentation also.

You can doubleclick the linked information to launch Excel with your linked file open for editing. When you save the edited file and return to PowerPoint, once again, the updated information appears in your presentation.

In order to update linked information and launch the linked file for editing, PowerPoint must be able to locate the file, so be sure to keep the linked file and your PowerPoint file in the same locations on your hard drive, or make sure that the linked Excel file stays in the same folder as the PowerPoint file.

If the linked file isn't present, you'll still be able to view and print the information, but you won't be able to update or edit it.

Hint: If you expect to add or delete information from the Excel worksheet later, create a named range from the area you've selected to link before you link to PPT. That way the link will be to the named range rather than to a specific range of cells. If you add/remove rows or columns around the range so that it moves to a different set of cells later, your link to the named range won't shift.

Sizing Issues
If charts (and pictures and other content) resize themselves unpredictably on your slides, choose Tools, Autocorrect from PowerPoint's main menu bar. Click the "AutoFormat As You Type" tab, then remove the checkmark next to "Automatic layout for inserted objects".

Charts linked from Excel behave more predictably if you create each chart on its own Chartsheet rather than adding it to a Worksheet.

Normally your spreadsheet will be black text on a white background. Dull, dull, dull. You can liven things up like so if you have PowerPoint 2003 or earlier:

Hint: If you need text in several different colors, make the text differently colored in Excel to begin with. Choose colors that are easy to read against Excel's white background then replace them with colors that look good against your current PowerPoint background.

If you have PowerPoint 2007, the Recolor feature has changed and is no longer useful with Excel charts. You'll need to do all of your formatting in Excel before copying the information into PowerPoint.

Link or Embed?
If you don't check the "Link" box in the Paste Special dialog, your information will be embedded rather than linked.

Which is best? That depends on your needs.

You'll want to link if:

You'll want to embed if:

And if you decide to Embed ...
My good friend Brian Reilly makes fun of me because of my fondness for linking. Sometimes he's actually right about stuff, so let's see what he and his Lead Programmer, Naresh Nichani recommend

I, for the most part,gave up linking years ago. I now copy the chart and/or worksheet to another workbook so you only have one or two sheets in this new workbook. From the menu it is Edit, Move or Copy Sheet, Check the box Create a Copy, Change the To book dropdown to New book and click OK. If you are using custom color palettes like I frequently do, You will then want to copy the color palette from the original workbook, Tools, Options, click the Color tab, and change the dropdown for Copy Colors From to the original workbook. Then you can use copy and paste and throw away the temporary workbook (after pasting). That way you only embed a single sheet or two into the PPT presentation.
This MS article has more detailed information on the different methods of pasting and linking from Excel 2007 to Powerpoint 2007. You can adapt most if not all of the same techniques to older versions of Excel and PowerPoint.
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Linking or copying information/content/charts/worksheets from Excel to PowerPoint
Last update 07 June, 2011